The OF Blog: 2017

Friday, August 18, 2017

Next week will have been 13 years since I started this blog

I am writing this post in a bit of a daze after suffering through an attack of vertigo this week that left me leaving work early twice and missing today.  My thoughts are somewhat in a haze, but as I was just catching up on online stuff, something I really don't do that much these days, I realized it had been around four months since I last posted here, so I thought I would write a brief post to prove that I haven't yet totally abandoned this site.

2017 has been a different sort of year for me.  I'm working full-time during the day for the first time since 2011.  My job demands a lot out of me and for the most part, it has been the sort of "good" challenge that keeps me occupied and (mostly) content.  I don't read all that much anymore; only 14 finished books so far this year.  Frankly, I do not miss reading all that much right now, as I have found new stimuli in running, training for distance running, and developing personal connections with people in my life.  As much as I enjoyed reading, I always sensed there were things that I was missing out on because of my odd work schedules and hang-ups about the person I had seemingly become.  Thankfully, these negative thoughts seem to be fading away and I get to do more these days.

That being said, I do not plan on abandoning this blog anytime soon.  Yes, I might not really write many (or any) reviews for a while still, but eventually I will write some more.  I know online book discussions have evolved over the years and that this platform is a dinosaur of sorts compared to social media.  Yet it is still a valuable place where I can record my thoughts on matters, perhaps with a few readers discovering something new. 

There will be some cosmetic changes here, of course.  I have already removed a few squirrel-related images because I think it was past time to change the look.  I still find the animals amusing and the in-joke as to why they were here in the first place is still a treasured memory, but times do change and with that, probably a few things will, by necessity, need to fade away into fond memory.  If I do decide to post more frequently, it might be more as a personal blog than as a review one.  Or maybe this will become a list of literary-related thoughts more than anything else.  I myself do not know for sure what the future holds.  What I do know is that in some ways it is a small comfort that I do have records of my thoughts on books, even if there are a vanishingly few readers still left to read these thoughts.  But I am now 43 and I am increasingly convinced that the social media arguments are best left to those younger than me, those who perhaps have more fight left in them than a middle-aged man whose pleasures and interests have been simpler with the years.

Perhaps I am wrong, though, and what interests me may interest others.  We shall see.  All I know is that the greatest task left to me now is to simply tend my own garden and hope others shall do the same in peace and comfort.  See you around, in some form or fashion.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A few recent purchases as I attempt to break my four month-long reading slump

I haven't really had anything to say lately (at least in regards to books), so I've been a bit more quiet than expected.  I did buy a new Mac Mini last week, however, and it's nice to have a computer that isn't slower than walkers who crowd the front of a competitive 5K race before start.  That alone might get me to post more, especially since I was usually either my iPhone or iPad to make most of my posts the past couple of years.

With that in mind, here are some recent purchases I made in hopes of sparking a renewed interest in reading more than a few minutes a week:

Charles H. Beeson (ed.), A Primer of Medieval Latin:  An Anthology of Prose and Poetry

Patrick Modiano, Dora Bruder

Maupassant, Pierre et Jean

Gisèle Pineau, L'Exil selon Julia

Marguerite Duras, Le Navire Night et autres textes

Boris Vian, L'écume des jours

Abbé Prévost, Manon Lescaut

André Mary, Tristan et Iseut

Fabrice Humbert, L'Origine de la violence

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac & Other Writings (Library of America edition)

St. Thomas More, Utopia (Latin)

A. Scott Berg (ed.) World War I and America:  Told by the Americans Who Lived It (Library of America)

Ignacio Malaxecheverría, Bestiario medieval

Plus two-volume Library of America editions of Carson McCullers and Mary McCarthy's works, and the just-released LoA second volume of Susan Sontag's later essays.

Been reading bits and pieces from many of these, just not enough to have finished any so far this year.  Might also re-read some of Andrzej Sapkowski's works, since I do have the Spanish translations of the last Hussite trilogy novel, Lux Perpetua, and the Witcher prequel La estación de tormentas, ordered and they should arrive by month's end.  Also, by then Jeff VanderMeer's Borne should be released and arrive in my mailbox.

So maybe, just maybe, I can break this streak and finish a new book for once this year.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Reading Slump

I had every intention of posting here more this year, but it seems that I've developed a rare reading slump in that from Christmas until today I hadn't read more than maybe 10 pages in any book.  Yes, I have not finished a single book this year (and only properly began one today, with a little over 100 pages read in A. Scott Berg's just-published World War I and America:  Told by the Americans Who Lived It).  Just haven't had the time (lots of 11-12 hour workdays lately, often working 6 days/week between my new residential teaching job and my PRN status at my old one) nor the energy, plus it seems that my prized Serbian reading squirrels have been more busy with their mating season than with attempting to read books.

Hopefully, the springtime will bring some time for reading once the quarterly audits are done and my paperwork is caught up.  I'd like to read more volumes in my Library of America collection (I should own 200 volumes by May) and maybe some fantasy/fantastika as well, since I haven't really read much speculative fiction over the past couple of years due to burnout.  Doubt I'll resume a daily social media presence (reading Twitter 2-3 years ago was like listening to interminable arguments; even if I agreed, it was still tedious and all joy was sucked from me if I paid attention too long), but that's OK.

But for those few who still read my blog via whatever nefarious means that still exist, what are the speculative/fantasy books du jour that I'm missing out on due to not really paying attention this past year or two?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A few reading/blogging goals for 2017

So I've been a little quiet here the past few months.  Much of that is due to a positive change in my personal life, as I took a teaching position at a local residential treatment center for teens with neurological/emotional/behavior disorders.  It is a challenging profession and I am still in the midst of establishing my routines with them.  I am also working on a PRN basis at my old job working with teens with autism, so there are several weekends where I have little to no time to relax at home, much less read or blog about what I have read.

I do hope to change this somewhat in the next few weeks.  I purchased a new 9.7" iPad Pro today and it is much faster and more powerful than my ancient laptop, so I should be more inclined to type now that I don't have to worry so much about the screen freezing up (helps that I have paired a wireless Apple keyboard to it so I can type at my regular speed).  I do have a small backlog of 2016 reads to blog about, including posting the list of 46 books that I read last year.  I'll do that sometime tomorrow ow, as I am about to go to bed.

But before I do go to sleep, I just wanted to post a few reading goals that I have for 2017.  The first is that I hope to read at least 50 books this year, after failing to do so the past two years (my trained Serbian reading squirrels have enjoyed a long and well-deserved vacation after a decade of reading hundreds of books a year).  The second is to read and review at least a dozen Library of America editions (I own nearly 180 volumes and many haven't yet been read).  A third is to review at least twelve times this year, even if very few people these days visit my blog compared to its 2007-2012 heyday.  I think these are achievable goals and hopefully when the year ends, there will be more output here than was the case in 2015 or 2016.
 
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